It turns out that there is a link between the yeti or Abominable Snowman and a totally unexpected species – brown bear.
The yeti is said to be an ape-like that inhabit the high mountains of Asia and it has mostly been seen as a mythological creature that lives in Nepal and Tibet. While sightings and footprints have been reported, but there has been no conclusive evidence of it being spotted through authentic sources.
DNA samples have also emerged and study of these purported samples from museums and private collections claims to solve mysteries surrounding the origins of this Himalayan legend. According to a new study published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, there is a link between Yeti and local bears found in Nepal and Tibet.
Researchers say in their study they analyzed nine “Yeti” specimens, including bone, tooth, skin, hair and fecal samples collected in the Himalayas and Tibetan Plateau. Of those, one turned out to be from a dog. The other eight were from Asian bears — one from an Asian black bear, one from a Himalayan brown bear, and the other six from Tibetan brown bears.
While this isn’t the first study to have claimed to answer questions about Yeti, it is definitely the most rigorous one till date of samples suspected to derive from anomalous or mythical ‘hominid’-like creatures.
The team believes that science can be a useful tool in exploring the roots of myths about large and mysterious creatures. Citing an example, the team says the longstanding Western legend of an “African unicorn” was explained in the early 20th century by British researchers, who found and described the flesh-and-blood okapi, a giraffe relative that looks like a mix between that animal and a zebra and a horse.
The “Yeti” samples that the team examined were provided to the team by British production company Icon Films, which featured her in the 2016 Animal Planet special “YETI OR NOT,” which explored the origins of the fabled being.
Besides tracing the origins of the Yeti legend, scientists work is uncovering information about the evolutionary history of Asian bears. The scientists sequenced the mitochondrial DNA of 23 Asian bears (including the purported Yetis), and compared this genetic data to that of other bears worldwide. This analysis showed that while Tibetan brown bears share a close common ancestry with their North American and Eurasian kin, Himalayan brown bears belong to a distinct evolutionary lineage that diverged early on from all other brown bears.
The split occurred about 650,000 years ago, during a period of glaciation, according to the scientists. The timing suggests that expanding glaciers and the region’s mountainous geography may have caused the Himalayan bears to become separated from others, leading to a prolonged period of isolation and an independent evolutionary path.